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Should I Buy a House with an Old Roof?

September 29th, 2023 | 7 min. read

Should I Buy a House with an Old Roof?

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Buying a new home is an exciting time. So, it’s disheartening to find the perfect home just to learn that the roof needs to be replaced.

Now, you’ll learn the roof’s current condition as part of a home inspection to help you determine how risky the old roof is. But no matter what the home inspection says, the final decision is yours to make.

So, should you buy a house with an old roof? The truth is it depends on the situation.

For over 30 years, the team at Bill Ragan Roofing has provided homeowners with transparent roofing information so they have the power to make confident decisions. That’s why I’ll break down what you need to know about buying a house with an older roof. 

This article answers the following questions:

  • Should you buy a house with an old roof?
  • How should you handle buying a house with a problematic old roof?

Should you buy a house with an old roof?

If you love everything else about the home, there’s no problem with buying a house with an old roof. However, you should proceed with caution and dig a little deeper. 

Luckily, the inspection report gives you the information needed to do just that. Below are the things you must consider when determining if an older roof is worth the risk.  

What roofing material is installed on the roof?

If the home is like most others in the United States, chances are it has an asphalt shingle roof. But just in case it doesn’t, the first thing you need to consider, determine really, is the type installed on the roof. 

architectural asphalt shingle roof(Architectural asphalt shingle roof)

The lifespan of every roof is determined by the specific roofing material. So, while 20 years is old for an asphalt shingle roof, it isn’t necessarily old for other roofing materials. 

steel standing seam metal roof(Standing seam metal roof)

A standing seam metal roof (the second most popular roofing material) should last around 50 years, so 20 years is about halfway through its lifespan. Taking it a step further, 20 years is nothing to a slate roof that can last 100+ years. 

slate roof(Slate roof)

After determining if the roof is “old” relative to the roofing material, you’re ready to dig into the actual state of the roof. 

Does the old roof show signs of previous major repairs?

Next, you should consider if the older roof has had previous roof repairs. You should definitely show hesitation if the old roof has had multiple large repairs. 

roof patch on a 3 tab asphalt shingle roof

It’s pretty easy to spot patching and mismatching if an older roof has had multiple large repairs during its life due to mismatching colors, especially if it was patched recently. If there are multiple patched spots, it most likely means it has (or had) continuous leaks or other problems. 

Unfortunately, all that’s left to do with an older roof like this is to replace it before costly leaks show up again. 

What’s the quality of the older roof’s installation?

Just because a roof is old doesn’t mean it’s failing and needs an immediate replacement. That’s why the next thing that must be considered is the quality of the older roof’s installation. 

improperly installed architectural asphalt shingle roof

In fact, poor installation quality can lead to a roof that’s a few years old being in worse condition than an older roof. Let’s say the roof is 20 years old with properly installed architectural asphalt shingles

While there are other lifespan factors, properly installed architectural asphalt shingles should last around 22-25 years. Even at 20 years old, you could go a couple or several more years without a leak after buying the house. 

If this same roof was improperly installed, it’d be lucky to reach the 15-year mark. And it would most likely need multiple repairs just to get there as well (remember the last section). 

If the roof on the potential house is improperly installed, either walk away or come to an agreement with the seller to take care of it (more on this in a minute). 

Is the older roof well-maintained?

Roof maintenance plays a crucial role in how your roof ages. In fact, getting yearly maintenance ensures a roof will get as close as possible to its maximum lifespan. 

Even at 20 years old, a well-maintained architectural asphalt shingle roof will have time left before it needs replacing. On the other hand, a neglected roof will actually perform and look as if it’s functionally older than a well-maintained roof.

architectural asphalt shingle roof

This lack of maintenance makes a 10-year-old roof really a 15-year-old roof. Unfortunately, neglect is one of the main reasons a roof fails prematurely

So, if you had the opportunity to buy the same home with a 20-year-old, well-maintained roof versus a 15-year-old roof that hasn’t had any maintenance, the “older” roof is the better option. 

How should you handle buying a house with a problematic old roof?

After taking into account the considerations above, you need to determine if the home with an older roof is worth the risk. If it is, you’re ready to put an offer down. 

But what if the older roof shows signs that it needs a replacement? In this scenario, there are a couple of options to get the home, plus a brand new roof. 

The first option is to put a contingency on the offer stating that replacing the roof is required before closing. If they accept the contingency, I recommend getting the quote to ensure a cheap or poorly installed roof isn’t put on your future home. 

The second option is agreeing to take the cost of a roof replacement off the total selling price. This is the easiest option of the two, but it depends on the seller and their motivation. 

Don't be afraid to walk away if the seller isn’t willing to agree on either option. You’re already investing hundreds of thousands into a new home, so you don’t need a problematic roof that comes with even more costly problems. 

How much will it cost to replace an old roof on your new home?

Now you know if you should buy a home with an old roof after considering a few things and how to handle a problematic older roof on a home you want to buy. As I said, there’s nothing wrong with buying a home with an older roof. 

Just proceed cautiously and figure out how the roof is actually doing relative to its current age. And if the home is perfect other than the roof, there’s no problem accepting the risk as long as you know it’ll be replaced before or soon after closing. 

But no matter how you go about it, you still need to know how much it’ll cost to replace the old roof on your future home. Unfortunately, this is hard without knowing the roofing material or the roof’s square footage. 

That’s why we created the Roof Cost Calculator. The calculator gives you the cost of a new roof based on the roofing material, the roof style, and the square footage. 

If you’re local to Nashville or a surrounding Middle Tennessee area, don’t hesitate to Contact Us for a free roof replacement estimate.

Use The Roof Cost Calculator to learn how much it’ll cost to replace the roof on your future new home.

roof cost calculator

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